If the Democrats can't generate some real enthusiasm among the base, and fast, [for Republican candidates] the word "unelectable" may cease to have meaning.You know what's a bit demoralizing to "the base"? Being consistently told over eighteen months that they're demoralized, have the right to be demoralized, and should remain demoralized unless something changes.
No, of course people should feel free to criticize legislation, to advocate for improvements. People like Glenn Greenwald should be free to launch scathing attacks on issues of privacy and national security, where the Administration is pretty much following the Bush model. And to the extent that the White House and its spokespeople resent the criticism, they should suck it up. It goes with the job. Or... wow... they can acknowledge it, explain why their actions fell short of the expectations of some, and discuss future plans and initiatives that might smooth some ruffled feathers.
The Democratic base has never seemed as easy to excite or ignite as the Republican base. There's less consistency on core issues, and it seems more of a tendency to get grumpy and gloomy and announce, "I'm not going to vote for anybody", as if the solution to being dissatisfied with a Democratic administration or Congress is to passively allow a Republican takeover. It's possible to recognize that both parties are pretty crappy, and that they're both far more focused on serving corporate interests than in serving the welfare of the non-fictitious people of the nation, while also recognizing that there are serious policy differences between the parties.
If the Democrats served up a nice set of reasons why people should vote for them, and be excited to do so, I fully expect that the critical pundits would respond either that "It's not enough" or that "It's too little, too late," and their reaction would become the story as opposed to the issues or substantive policy that's at stake.
You know what might be a better message than, "Voters won't show up unless they're excited about something"? The message that part of being a member of a functioning democracy is to take the time to vote in major elections, even if you think all of the candidates suck.
Update: An international, um... perspective.